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Kids at forefront

Cindy Ramunno

It has been a fun run. I will begin writing for this fine paper as the education correspondent – no more venting for me.

I appreciate all of the e-mails and phone calls regarding past submissions. I love hearing the various comments and the question left on my voice mail from an unidentified gentleman stating: “How do you seem to always know exactly how I am feeling or thinking?”

It has been great being able to write about my family, the community and things going on in this great country of ours. While I haven’t pleased everyone all of the time, I feel I have tried to be fair and generally uplifting.

Since I will be writing about education, children seem to be at the forefront of my mind. Not only my children, but other kids, as well.

The recent reports of abductions and child murder horrify and sicken me. Pedophiles will always be living with us – in small towns, rural areas and big cities.

I’m not a psychologist, but I do know that these individuals do not typically respond to treatment, let alone become totally cured. I do believe that as parents, we can protect our kids to some extent.

The FBI reports that 2,100 missing children reports are filed each day (though the majority of those cases involve domestic issues between parents). Some tips the FBI gives to parents are to know the vital statistics of your child – height, weight and eye color. Have a recent (within six months) clear photo of each child available and keep up medical and dental records.

The first few hours after an abduction are crucial, so this information needs to be readily available for law enforcement to act immediately.

Here is another clue. If your child has had a “strange” encounter with someone, maybe not enough to warrant a crime, but it seems strange, call and make a report. This kind of information needs to be continually documented.

Some basics to tell your children:

n Never accept gifts or candy from strangers.

n Never go anywhere with a stranger. Some common lines used on children now are: “Can you help me find my lost puppy?” and “Come see my new litter of kittens. They are sleeping in my car.”

n Run and scream if someone tries to force you to go with him/her.

n Learn to say “no” if an adult is doing something that makes you uncomfortable or frightened.

n If something doesn’t feel right or if something strange happens with an adult, tell a trusted adult. Moms are usually a good choice because you know how we are.

n Always get permission from a trusted adult to go into somebody’s home.

Law enforcement has other tips, as well, and you can contact them locally or visit the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children’s Web site.

Children of all ages deserve respect and we need to believe what they tell us and listen to their gut feelings about people. If they don’t want to be around a family member or friend, there is probably a reason, even if a child cannot verbally describe his/her feelings.

All too often, the opinions and feelings of our little people just do not count. Some families seem to look at their children as possessions or something to control.

While I am a believer of setting limits and administering discipline, we need to treat children as we would expect to be treated, with respect and dignity. Let’s listen to these little guys.

Thanks for reading!


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